A Long Island couple were busted for allegedly importing counterfeit goods and conspiring to sell them in Manhattan and elsewhere for millions, according to U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara's office. More than 130,000 items, including fake luxury watches and sunglasses, were found in a storage unit.
The investigation started last November, when federal agents noticed that many packages from China were being sent to postal service businesses in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Staten Island and Long Island. A federal agent said in the criminal complaint that "importers of foreign contraband often direct their shipments to postal service businesses so that the importer does not need to provide a personal address or other identifying information for the contraband to enter the United States."
Authorities soon discovered that Le Fu Chen, who goes by "Tom Chen" and "Danny Chen," would pick up the packages at the New York postal service businesses. (The Pennsylvania and Michigan locations were allegedly forwarding packages to a postal service center in Flushing, Queens.) While staking out his home in Roslyn Heights, law enforcement found trash including "a sheet of stickers bearing the 'Ray-Ban’ trademark of the size and design suitable to be places on boxes or tags for sunglasses and a sheet of paper showing the designs" and "types of various designer handbag brands, such as 'Gucci' and 'Louis Vuitton.’"
Chen and his wife, Hai Fan Huang, are also accused of having a Garment District office for "Elegance Eyewear," where nearly 500 pairs of counterfeit sunglasses were found. And at a Long Island storage facility, agents found 130,000 counterfeit items.
Both Chen and Huang were each charged with one count of conspiring to traffic in counterfeit goods, and one count of trafficking in counterfeit goods. They each face a maximum potential sentence of 20 years in prison.
The feds estimate the loss associated with the items to be in the millions. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigation Acting Special Agent-in-Charge Glenn Sorge said, "This couple allegedly conspired to profit from the sale of knock offs. Fake products that infringe on business owners’ intellectual property rights cost jobs and hurts the U.S. economy. Today’s arrests and seizures embody HSI and its law enforcement partners’ commitment to disrupt the importation and sale of counterfeit goods."